“[The DOJ’s decision] is not a pressure tactic since Jeane has been asked by the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) in the past to justify how she’s able to own a lot of properties here and abroad,” the lawmaker, who is a member of the administration Nationalist People’s Coalition, said.
For Gatchalian, there is no basis to link the DOJ’s decision to run after Jeane for tax evasion to the prosecution of the cases against her mother since they are implicated in two different crimes.
“Jeane is being investigated for tax evasion while her mother is detained for serious illegal detention, aside from facing plunder charges,” he said.
In an eight-page resolution, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela said there’s probable cause to indict Jeane for her failure to pay more than P17 million in taxes despite her ownership of several pieces of property in the US and the Philippines.
Among the properties registered under her name are a condominium unit in Los Angeles, California worth P54.73 million, and her share in a farm lot in Bayambang, Pangasinan worth P1.49 million.
Jeane’s total tax liability has ballooned to P32 million, inclusive of interest, for 2011 and 2012.
Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, however, sees the DOJ’s decision as the Aquino administration’s way of putting more pressure on Napoles, who is on trial at the Sandiganbayan for her alleged involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
“It’s a ‘squeeze move’ meant to further pin down Janet Napoles. It’s also a way of creating [the] impression that the administration is doing something amid its seeming inutility and cluelessness [about] the problems of this country,” he said in a text message.
Dela Cruz is a member of the independent minority bloc led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, president of the Lakas CMD party.
For his part, Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez of the Liberal Party believes Jeane’s indictment will strengthen the case against Napoles because the funds she used to purchase properties “are presumed to be from illegal sources.”
Jeane’s lavish lifestyle — as seen from her blogs and posts on social networking sites — earned flak from netizens following reports that her mother was supposedly involved in the pork barrel scandal. — JDS, GMA News